Time is the Hunter
Episode 04: The Privilege of Choice
A 1500th post special!
Last time on Star Wars Time is the Hunter, Jax Hunt finds himself being forcibly inducted into a bounty hunter posse bent on killing his mark, known only as The Skywalker in the abandoned structures deep beneath Spaceport Tower 214 in the Byblos system. Jax recently learned that The Skywalker was also helping to save young orphans of victims of the tyrannical Galactic Empire.
Surrounded by a colourful group of nearly 20 bounty hunters consisting of a variety of species, Jax Hunt faced their prune-faced Dressellian leader who wore a DL-44 blaster at his hip.
The leader barked with a smile, “My name is Kozener. And I lead this crew to claim the bounty on The Skywalker. But we will kill this Skywalker and claim 20 times the reward of the one posted through your House Benelex. Stick with us, and we will all be rich.”
It took all Jax had to keep any hint of emotion off his face.
“Are you with us, Jax Hunt?” Kozener asked, his smile turning a dull shade of malice. Jax noticed that all the other hunters hands were hovering over their holsters.
“Yes,” Jax carefully said, “I am.”
“Excellent!” Kozener grinned as the others eased their hands off their weapons. “We’ll need to work as a team as this Skywalker easily defeats anyone who approaches him solo. A five-man team reported that they succeeded in shooting him a few days ago, but soon after we lost contact with that team. You are to assist these two, the Rodian twins Dragillo and Dave. They will be taking the high position and wait for the attack signal.”
Then Dragillo was dragging Jax down the corridor, exclaiming in Basic, “Let’s go, rookie!”
In Splendid Company
The two Rodians and Jax left the main group and travelled down badly-lit, grimy hallways with exposed floor plates oxidizing in the musky air. Soon they were at a stairwell, Dragillo pointed upwards, “Go.”
Jax complied, and several heartbeats later the twins followed up. From below, Jax heard Dave sneer, “It’d be a shame, eh, if you got shot in the back for accidental reasons. I suppose we both will have to share your portion of the bounty.”
They cackled evilly.
Five levels later they headed down a corridor that led to a series of storage warehouses. Jax saw parts of vehicles and machines wherever the door was open. Beside an open warehouse door, Dagrillo told Jax, “Stay here with Dagrillo. I am going to scout ahead, just in case. When all is clear, I will call.”
Jax and Dave eyed each other wordlessly, weapons prepared to draw. Then Jax spotted a faint glow from the shadows among the large crates. (Perception roll of 17 over a Difficulty of 15.) He told Dave, “I’m going inside for a look. I’ll be back.”
Dave allowed it, saying, “If you’re not back in three minutes, I’m coming to get you and my blaster will be drawn.”
Jax explored the warehouse space, finding mostly open, empty crates and scrap metal. He also discovered a series of slabs arranged on the back wall. There were slabs of carbonite. One of them – the source of the glow – had the outline of someone, a human, encased in carbonite. He studied the glowing display on its side which indicated that whoever that was encased was still alive!
Jax had a choice to make. Should he unfreeze the person? Would it make things worse? Would Dave or Dagrillo kill this person, and him, if he released the poor soul?
He decided and hit a switch. Thirty seconds later, when the carbonite vapour had cleared, a human female in her mid-thirties fell to the floor.
Dave called from outside, “What’s going on in there?”Jax went to help the woman, who wore a nondescript overalls and light shoes. She was panicky. “What’s going on? Where am I? I can’t see! I’m blind! What’s going on?”
Jax attempted to calm her down, “Madam, I just released you from carbonite. I’ll keep you safe. Who are you?”
The blind woman thought and came to a dark realisation. “I… I don’t know. I don’t know who I am? I don’t know my name.”
“SO!” Dave growled behind them. The Rodian had a DH-17 drawn and pointed at Jax. “I see you’ve found a friend. We don’t need another mouth to feed.”
Jax tried to explain to Dave that the woman might need medical assistance, but Dave roared, “Hand me your blaster, rookie. Or I will shoot you.”
The woman suddenly stopped shivering, pulled Jax down and whispered to him, “His blaster is empty. His ammo pack has no charge.” Jax was dumbstruck. Was this woman telling the truth? (Ain who plays carbonite lady was asked to roll Sense. She got 11/5.)
“Your blaster now, or this woman dies first!”
Jax drew his blaster slowly and aimed and pulled the trigger. (Blaster roll of 19 with a Difficulty of 5 at Point Blank Range.) At that close range the blaster bolt slammed into Dave’s chest. As he fell, Dave produced a flurry of sparks followed by cloud of mushroom smoke. (Damage 21 with a Strength roll of 7, dealing 14 points of damage and Dave is incapacitated.)
“Great,” Jax said. “Dagrillo won’t like this.” He turned to the woman and asked, “How did you know his blaster was empty?” Dave had plenty of time to shoot him when he was drawing and aiming, but did not.
She said, “I… I don’t know. I can… sort of see it.”
He muttered, “But you’re blind.” Wait. Was she some sort of… Jedi? Aren’t they extinct?
“Dave, come in,” a voice crackled from a comlink at Dave’s belt. “Dave, you’re clear. Get over here and bring the rookie.”
A Bird’s Eye View of Things
Jax took the comlink and thumbed it. “This is Jax. Uh, Dave had to find a place to, uh… relieve himself. He’ll be back in a second.”
The silence went on for eight seconds before the reply came, “Okay. Come up here quickly.” (Con success of 9/4.)
“Please,” the woman whimpered, sounding very scared, “I don’t know where I am. Don’t leave me.”
“Come with me, Madam,” said Jax taking her hand and guiding her out of the warehouse. “We’re still in danger. Be quiet and we’ll try to get through this.”
Dagrillo was holed up in an empty office at the end of a hallway. A shattered window overlooked a large dark cavern which Jax could not really see as he approached after asking the blind woman to wait around the corner several meters from the open office door.
“There you are, rookie,” the Rodian said. “Where is my brother?”
Jax swallowed and said, “He said to go on ahead. His stomach is killing him.”
The Rodian who had set up a sniper’s nest at the large opening, aiming a highly-modified SoroSuub X-45 rifle out into the darkness beyond. Dagrillo turned his head to look at Jax. He said, “Well, I told him he shouldn’t have had that third helping of spiced bantha soup last night.” (Con success of 18/12.)
He gestured to a keyboard-sized machine on the floor behind him and said, “I need you to monitor and tap into unknown communications with this comm gear. Report if you hear anything out of the ordinary.”
Jax activated the device, hit some of the buttons and turned a few dials hoping to find any active frequency, but (on a Communication skill roll of 9/10) he failed to even discover the correct band. He nervously told Jax, “Nothing so far.”
He kept trying, but kept failing to find anything. Then he turned to Dagrillo and said, “Hey, I think I dropped my blaster down the corridor. I’m going to go get it.” He immediately regretted it because his Relby-23k pistol was gleaming visibly at his hip even in the low lighting of the office.
Thankfully Dagrillo did not budge from his sniping position. The Rodian muttered, “Sure. Be quick. It won’t be long now.”
Dagrillo’s comlink buzzed, “All units in position. Stand by for orders.” To which he replied, “Dagrillo copies.”
Jax returned to Amnesiac Lady who remained where she was. “Hey, miss. Are you a Jedi? Can you get Dagrillo to leave his post by talking to him?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Amnesiac Lady. “Where am I? Do you have food? I’m hungry.”
“Dagrillo is an immediate problem.”
“Let me kill him,” the lady said without missing a beat. Jax did a double take.
“I’ll do it, madam,” Jax said, grabbing his heavy duty vibroblade. “Umm… you’re kind of… blind.”
“Don’t call me madam, kid,” she said. “Call me miss. Well, do you have any food?”
Jax shushed her, sneaked up to Dagrillo, whose comlink buzzed again, “Advance squad, sweep forward. All other units stand by.”
In the gigantic dark cavern beyond the shattered office window, Jax noticed something familiar. In the middle of the huge empty space was a single colossal tree that grew up from the darkness below up to where it exploded into branches and thick leaves. A long rope bridge precariously connected the tree to a door at the side of the large cavernous area.
Jax had been at that doorway and saw the tree not long before! The Skywalker must be located somewhere on that tree!
Four figures, heavily armed, had begun to cross the rope bridge.
“Dagrillo,” the comlink buzzed again with an unfamiliar voice. “If you see any threats, take it out.”
These were bad guys, Jax reminded himself. The Rodian failed to see Jax sidle close. (Melee Combat roll of 21 – with Wild Die hitting 6 twice – against a Very Easy Difficulty Number of 5, as he was close and an easy target.) There was a blur of vibroblade and Dagrillo went limp and slumped forward, losing grip of his X-45 sniper rifle. It was about to tumble out the window. A quick lunge and Jax had snagged it in his hand.
“Come on,” Jax called the Amnesiac Lady, quickly removed Dagrillo’s body from his nest and took his place. Through the scope, he saw a brown overalls-clad Gotal leading a Sakiyan in leather armour, an Aqualish in a bright red flak jacket and an unassuming looking Gand in a dull orange helmet walking along the rope bridge toward the tree.
“Still no food,” complained the Lady rummaging around the room. She instead found the comm unit and handled it expertly. She located a frequency being used. “-elp us! Our helper is hurt. I think people are about to attack us in the tree! Please! If anyone hears this, please help us!”
It was a child’s voice. Jax exclaimed, “The intel was right. The Skywalker is helping orphan children!”
“Maybe The Skywalker has food.”
It was then when familar voice rang out from the doorway (because Amnesiac Lady’s Perception roll failed at 13/15). “I knew you couldn’t be trusted,” said Kozener with glee. The Dressellian moved toward Amnesiac Lady and pressed the muzzle of his DL-44 heavy blaster pistol on her back. “I see you brought a friend. Time for you both to die.”
Jax thought that if he failed, then not only Amnesiac Lady would die but the orphans on the tree would be killed too. So he calmed his thoughts, cleared his mind, and it seemed as if the universe guided him as he spun and brought his rifle to bear on Kozener. One wrong move and he would be shooting Amnesiac Lady himself.
But the Force did not betray him. (Blaster skill, augmented by one Force Point, succeeds with a 25.) The sniper bolt flew past the woman’s wavy brown hair and hit the Dressellian’s shoulder. Most of the bolt’s energy was shrugged off by the hardy armour concealed under his cape, but it certainly knocked the wind out of him. (Damage is only 10/8, a Stun result.)
Free from Kozener’s grasp, Amnesiac Lady turned around, still in Jax’s line of fire, and demanded from the Dressellian, “I want some food!”
A second bolt from the sniper rifle went over her shoulder and hit Kozener’s chest, which exploded sending him flying out the door. (Damage is 31/9 because of Wild Die!)
Amnesiac Lady turned to Jax and complained, “He had no food.”
Jax turned back to the window and reacquired the advanced team through the sniper scope, who had reached a third of the way across the bridge. “If I shoot, they might back off.” Jax shot. (Blaster roll of 13/20.) Jax missed. The four bounty hunters turned their blasters to where Jax was and opened up. Blaster bolts were carving up molten craters on walls where they hit.
From somewhere else on the inner wall of the large cavern, there was a flash of light and an exhaust trail indicated a rocket was headed towards them.
“Madam! Run!” Jax grabbed the X-45 rifle and ran out the office.
“Call me miss!” yelled Amnesiac Lady as she ran after him.
There was an explosion behind them. The concussion slammed against Jax. Several pieces of debris struck his back and knocked him down (with one point of Damage, stunning him for the round). Blistering flames and debris swirled around them. When the smoke cleared, it was Amnesiac Lady who was still standing. As she helped Jax up, the bounty hunter found himself at awe with her. (Wild Die on 6 twice during her Strength roll!)
An Unplanned Flight
The explosion had torn off chunks of walls and opened up the warehouse on the left. There were old vehicle parts scattered on the floor. Several crates were on their sides and its contents had spilled out: Nen-Carvon R-444 Sky Swooper gliders!
He told Amnesiac Lady, “We’ll fly to the tree. We’ll get there before they do!” But Amnesiac Lady was already gleefully strapping herself into the glider and extending her wings. Jax quickly did the same, and realised that another rocket was on its way toward them.
“Madam!” he called. “Quick! Jump out the window!”
The Lady yelled back, “Call me Miss!” and jumped out the window. Jax tightened the final straps and followed suit.
The two soared into the open space toward the tree as the rocket impacted on what was left of the office and turned everything within it into fiery debris.
Jax saw the advanced team firing at them from almost halfway across the bridge, but they were flying too fast for the shots to hit.
Suddenly a blaster cannon from elsewhere on the wall of the enclosure half a kilometre away opened up on them. Jax saw Amnesiac Lady manoeuvre her glider gracefully, dancing around the red vehicle-scale blaster bolts. (Repulsorlift Ops skill roll of 31/20, again thanks to Wild Die turning up 6 twice!) However, one attacking bolt struck and took a bite off Jax’s own wings! (Repulsorlift Ops failure of 10/20.)
They were almost at the tree and saw a landing, a 20-metre wide wooden platform which had been obscured by the leaves from afar. And they were flying towards it too fast.
Amnesiac Lady pulled up her wings, shaving her speed considerably and landed on her two feet, inertia sliding her along an extra metre. (Repulsorlift Ops skill success of 12/10.)
His glider leaving a trail of smoke, Jax thumped onto the deck and slid quickly towards the edge. (Repulsorlift Ops skill failure of 8/10.) Amnesiac Lady sprinted and caught a piece of the wing (by rolling a successful Dexterity check and spending her only Force Point), whose inertia also caused her to slide another extra metre towards the long drop. When he stopped, Jax’s torso was over the edge of the platform and he was gazing into the abyss. A heave from Amnesiac Lady pulled him back onto the planks.
WHO WAS THIS AMNESIAC LADY?
“Thanks,” Jax said.
“Stairs,” the lady said, pointing at one that descended under the platform. They unstrapped the gliders, climbed down and found themselves on a wooden landing facing a closed ramp. Jax peered at their adversaries who are well past the half way point. He said, “Try to get the door open and I’ll cover us.”
Amnesiac Lady found an external panel and skilfully rewired it as Jax fired at the incoming group. A shot hit the Gotal leading the team (Blaster roll of 24/15, Damage of 20/12) and halted their advance. There was a hum as the ramp lowered itself. Amnesiac Lady grinned satisfactorily (because she rolled Security success for 16/10).
Escape Under Fire
“Get in,” she yelled at Jax. There were half a dozen young children huddled together at a table at the far side of the room beyond the ramp.
“No,” Jax said. “Go! I’ll cover you.”
She pointed at an incoming rocket.
“Okay! Close the ramp behind me!” Jax howled in panic as he leaped into the doorway. The ramp closed and the rocket hit, rocking the room they were all in. The children screamed and cried.
Amnesiac Lady also screamed albeit joyously upon beholding the plates of uneaten juicy black pepper nuna chop with a side of salad.
Jax looked around and marvelled that the rocket had not pierced the walls. “Is this a ship?”
One of the children, a Twi’lek brought Jax up a ladder to a hallway in the next deck where he saw a cannon turret – or a small cockpit – at one end, and a large cockpit on the other end. There was a turret station under the large cockpit. Beside the large cockpit was a room with a bacta tank. An unconscious figure was suspended in the bacta fluid, obviously recuperating from injuries. Must be The Skywalker!
Jax called out, “Miss! I need your help.”
Happy that Jax called her “miss”, Amnesiac Lady joined him with a plate of nuna chop in hand. She set aside her plate and leapt into the cockpit position, starting up the engines like a natural pilot. Jax shrugged and said, “Okay, then. I’m on the cannons. HOLD TIGHT, KIDS!”
As she chewed on her nuna slice, Amnesiac Lady engaged the repulsorlifts and a Corellian VCX-100 freighter exploded out of the tree, sending a cloud of branches and leaves everywhere. The ship spun and headed for the outer wall of the enclosure where some sunlight breached the painted-over transparisteel surface allowing beams of light to slighty light the cavern.
The threat board beeped. Jax yelled, “Another rocket coming!”
Amnesiac Lady rolled her eyes, munched on some salad and jinked causing the rocket to zoom past them and strike the transparisteel ahead. The explosion blew a large hole in the outer surface, large enough for her to fly the ship into the open blue skies of Byblos.
Soon they were out of the shadow of Byblos Spaceport Tower-214.
“Any idea where we should go?” Jax asked. (His Planetary Systems roll for Byblos is 10/15.)
“Hang on!” said Amnesiac Lady. She then brought the ship into arc that pointed them towards the nearby arcology that housed the University of Byblos. She selected a tower with a landing platform with grass and trees and brought them to a soft landing there. (Her Planetary System roll was 7/5! How does she know the planet?)
They had landed near a small infirmary.
“How did you know to land here?” Jax asked.
Still chewing on a piece of nuna, Amnesiac Lady said dismissively, “I have no idea.”
Soon volunteer doctors, student nurses and medical droids were aboard their ship checking out the ship and themselves for injuries. The Skywalker – who had almost fully healed after two days in the bacta tank – was decanted at the infirmary itself. Jax was anxious at meeting The Skywalker. It turned out he was a Togorian named Meow Skywalker.
Meow was grateful to them both for saving his life and the life of the orphans and said, “Do you want a job?”
“One of its tasks involves protecting children like these.”
“I should get back to the Guild office,” Jax said.
“Those bounty hunter are probably waiting for you there,” Meow said.
“Okay, I’ll take that job,” Jax said. He turned to Amnesiac Lady, “We ought to name you. Are you also with us?”
“Is there food?” she asked playfully but with a tinge of a threat in her tone.
“Sure,” Meow assured her.
She shrugged a yes.
Twenty minutes later, the VCX-100 freighter – with three adults and six children aboard – soared away from Byblos into the darkness of space.
- This is the 1500th entry for this blog!
- This is the first RPG session that Ain participated in and she killed it as Amnesiac Lady, subconsciously channelling Helena from Orphan Black, I’d later realised. I have been inviting her to join in a game for many, many years.
- Meow Skywalker was adapted from this Penny Arcade gag nearly twelve years ago.
- Finally Jax Hunt leaves Byblos. But will he be able to go back to House Benelex?